Quiet Quezada finally speaks

Over the course of spring camp, junior running back Josh Quezada avoided speaking to the media. His reasoning was clear: he didn't want to bring any attention his way that would distract him or deter his focus over spring camp. On the last day, he relented and broke his silence.

It was easier sifting through hay to find a needle than it was to get any quotes from Josh Quezada this spring. Well, all but one quote, that is. He avoided anyone with a digital recorder and a notepad, and if he was caught sneaking past by someone saying, "Hey Josh, can I speak with you for a moment?" his reply was always, "Sorry, I have a test I have to take." It was the only quote he gave for nearly all of spring camp.

On the last day, however, he stayed out on the field a little longer talking with the little boys and girls of former players visiting for Alumni Day. He also signed shirts and small footballs.

So, one last attempt was made. "Hey Josh, can I speak with you for a moment?" He turned, smiled and said, "Sure."

Walking across the field, Quezada gave his thoughts on some of the biggest developments and offensive improvements that were made.

"Well, it's been fun and each day I feel like we progressed from the first day of spring camp to the last day of spring camp," he said. "What I wish we could have done more of is what we did the last week of spring camp and that was the fast tempo stuff. I feel that was the big thing that we accomplished over spring.

"In terms of progression and a big difference from last year, that is the one thing that will really make a huge difference in our team. I think what we did and how we did it is going to really change some things for us. There are other things that we did, but that is the biggest difference."

Arriving at the drink table, where about 50 cups of Powerade sat just outside the locker room, Quezada grabbed a cup, downed it and began talking about how the playbook has been enhanced to better accommodate the newer facets of the offense.

"Personally, I felt like the enhancement of the playbook is a lot different this year than it was last year," he said. "I feel like we've done some things to enhance our offense to become more effective with some of those newer things we want to do. I also feel like my role has changed now this year than last year."

The enhancement of the playbook also comes from better knowing one's role within the offense. Last year as a sophomore, Quezada took on more of a secondary role to J.J. Di Luigi and Bryan Kariya. However, that won't be the case this year. He's become more of a student of the game as one of the offense's primary weapons.

"The way I look at things now is I'm not just looking at just the running back position," Quezada said. "Now I'm looking at the lineman positions, I'm looking at the defense's perspectives and I'm trying to broaden my overall understanding and progression.

"You know, the quarterbacks have to know what the running backs are doing and what the offensive line is doing. I want to have that perspective where I know everyone else's responsibility and perspective. That's where I'm at right now."

In reflecting on Quezada's progress over spring camp, he seemed like a new player. Out of all the running backs, his spring camp performance was the most impressive, simply because his ankles and body were healed.

"Last year I would say it set me back, definitely," Quezada said regarding being injured last year. "The ankles are good and I practiced in every spring practice this year. I feel like that showed an example of what you're supposed to be doing – you know, making sure you're supposed to be out here and running the routes. My ankles feel good and my body feels good. Coach thinks I've lost weight, but I've actually gained weight. That's what I'm trying to do this year is play a little heavier."

A lot has occurred in the life of this Cougar running back over the last five months. On November 20, he lost his older brother Joseph, who passed away following a hit-and-run accident.

This year, Quezada wants to dedicate his hard work, efforts and the season on behalf of Joseph.

"Oh of course, yeah, of course," Quezada said with a smile. "I'm not going to go out and get a tattoo or anything like that, but he's always in my heart and I'll never forget him taking every day one at a time. I'll be sure to talk to my family, especially my younger siblings to make sure they're okay. I'll call them because it can be especially hard for them.

"You know, it's kind of like a movie. You think it's not real, but it's the real thing, and so I call them every day and make sure they're doing alright and talk with them. It's a process, so I'm just taking it one day at a time."

The death of a loved one can at times seem unreal. Coming to a slow realization that someone who has been a big part of your life is now gone can seem surreal at times.

"Of course it's been hard," he said. "You don't really know how to react, you know what I mean? In the past it's been overwhelming and you don't know how to react. You know, it's something I've never been through.

"I wish my brother was here. I pray for my brother and, you know, I know he's in a better place. I look at it as he's always looking out for me and helping me out. With the decision I make, I feel like he helps me out in those kind of ways."

While dealing with the emotional loss of his brother, and being away from his family while on a team dealing with internal turmoil of its own, it's understandable why Quezada didn't want to speak with the media throughout all of spring camp. He wanted to take the time to refocus and get himself emotionally back in the game without any distractions.

"A huge thing for me was I didn't want to do any interviews," he said. "You know how there's fasting and you don't eat? I felt like I needed to fast from the media. I felt like I needed to humble myself and that's why I didn't want to do any interviews until the last day of spring ball."

So following the many practices when people requested to speak with him, the all-too-familiar reply that he had a test wasn't true after all?

"Yeah, it wasn't to do tests," Quezada confessed with a smile. "It was more for myself. I felt like I really needed to humble myself extremely. So, that's huge for me."

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